About us

Lemma stands for Language Education and Memory in Multilingualism and Academia. It is a research project funded by Ghent University, in which experimental psychologists and educational scientists work together on the interface between language and memory in multilingualism with particular attention to the consequences of using a second language (or L2) in higher education settings. Some of the issues addressed by Lemma are:


  • Is our memory better (or worse) for materials in the first language (L1)?
  • What is the forgetting curve, in other words at which point do we forget words learned in L1 vs. L2?
  • In typical memory experiments, participants learn a word list. But what if they have to learn a realistic text, like the chapter of a textbook? Do the same findings then still hold?
  • People are slower to read or speak single words in L2. But why? What parts of the speaking / reading systems are slowed down?
  • People have more difficulty with understanding speech in L2, especially in a noisy environment (such as – sometimes - an auditorium!). Does this mean they change their strategies for language understanding (e.g., more guessing)?

The goals of Lemma are twofold. Our main theoretical aim is to understand the consequences of using an L2 for language processing and memory. Our practical aim is to provide empirical evidence with regard to the question of whether using L2 (typically English in a Flemish context) in higher education is detrimental for educational outcomes and whether any such detriments can be ameliorated by certain educational interventions.

For general information about Lemma, please contact Robert Hartsuiker (spokesperson for the project). E-mail: Twitter: @rhartsui. For specific questions about individual projects, see the contact page.